Nvidia Corp. has started to openly distribute a driver, which enables end users who build their computers themselves to take advantage of four GeForce 7 graphics processors and build a system featuring quad SLI technology. The beta driver has been posted on a special web-site for multi-GPU technology enthusiasts.
“This driver is a Beta driver that enables Quad Nvidia SLI technology, allowing you to put two GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics cards in a single system with an Nvidia nForce SLI motherboard. This driver is strictly for end user Beta testing with two GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics cards only and is not intended for production,” a statement by Nvidia reads.
Earlier Nvidia said that building a system with four graphics processing units (GPUs) is too complex for end-users, which is why so far such personal computers have been offered strictly by system builders and for the price that very few could afford. It is unclear why the ForceWare 91.37 drivers are not supported by Nvidia, as those drivers should be shipped along with systems built by computer builders, such as Alienware, and thus, should be WHQL-validated and supported by the developer.
Now the company allows end-users to assemble quad SLI systems themselves, but asked users to ensure that they have hardware, which is suitable to build the appropriate high-end computers. Current requirements include:
- Two Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics cards;
- Nvidia nForce SLI mainboard compatible with Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics boards;
- A high-performance power supply unit (with total maximum power higher than 700W);
Quad SLI allows to turn on 32x anti-aliasing, the maximum level possible today, or to play the latest games in 2560x1600 resolution. Currently quad SLI technology is positioned as a state-of-the-art technology for gaming enthusiasts who call for ultimate performance and quality. However, a technology review conducted by X-bit labs in late April, 2006, discovered that the quad SLI may not provide absolutely fastest performance even in 2560x1600 resolution, where GeForce 7900 quad SLI lost to the Radeon X1900 XT CrossFire setup in several cases, and also suffers from driver problems. X-bit labs will attempt to have a second look at the quad SLI technology in summer 2006.